November 23, 2005
This is the season of birthday parties for my son's little buddies-many of the parents we hang out with have kids who were born plus or minus a month of our kid, so the tide of fiestas has begun.
Birthday parties for one year olds are strange as the kids themselves have no concept of time. A friend of mine, half of a childless couple, on hearing of the party, snorted, "If you ever find me at a birthday party for a one year old take me out in the back and shoot me..." While I was never quite that cynical, as I navigated the line of strollers to get up to the apartment I heard David Byrne in my head "How did I get here..".
The scene was surreal... 15 or so kids and twice as many adults mostly crawling around on the floor. As is usual at any party I found myself in the corner observing the scene (apparently I was bouncing a balloon off my head and according to my wife "looked like a crazy person"). Anyway at these parties kids crawl over each other and touch each others faces, as the parents ever watchful compare their relative progress ("my kid eats peas and broccoli!" "Well my kid eats asparagus!") and swap tips on sleeping problems and baby gear. There was one little girl who called all men "dada" and all women "mama" (well except for the short haired woman who was taken for a dada) and there was a boy who called everything "cat" or "not cat" and one boy who spent the whole time on his back staring at the balloons on the ceiling. Some kids clung to their parents for dear life whereas others explored everything, invariably seeking out the things that could potentially electrocute, maim, or smother them. I played peek-a-boo with my son who was across the room but still checking in on me. And I with my balloon was thinking how good it was to be one of these kids, in a world that is divided into cat and not cat and ma's and dada's and where a guy hiding his eyes with a blanket brings so much unencumbered joy.